Wednesday, 2 January 2013

Brain of Britain - Round One - Heat 5

Those sneaky schedulers at Radio 4 snuck this one in on Saturday, and caught me out. I only listened to it today on the iplayer. The first contestant in this heat was
Jill Goodwin

– Hallo – thought I – that name rings a bell. A check on my Mastermind Contenders database revealed that Jill was a finalist in the 1984 series, beaten in the Grand Final by Margaret Harris. – She’ll be good , I sagely ( and safely ) predicted. The other three contestants were
Paddy Hayes
Simon Mason
Jonathan Perry
Jonathan too has Mastermind form. he was a semi-finalist in last year’s series where he was a pretty decent performer in both of his GK rounds.

Round one saw Jill kick off with 3 consecutive correct answers, although she possibly might have known that H2SO4 is the formula for sulphuric acid. Paddy had a bonus there. He missed his own first one, and to be fair nobody recognized the title of Mary Wesley’s first adult novel. Simon didn’t know that the Rainbow Bridge is in Utah, which gave Jonathan a bonus. He missed his own first to let Paddy in again. IN round two, for the second time in succession, Jill took her first three questions, and probably should have known the 3rd, that Gore Vidal was the 86 year old American writer who died in 2012. Jonathan took that one. Paddy didn’t know that the 1999 Sports Personality of the 20th century was Muhammad Ali, which gave Simon his first point of the contest. Simon took his first, but didn’t know that the rank immediately above serf in Anglo Saxon peasantry was ceorl ( or churl to use its modern derivative ) . Jonathon took that which made up for not knowing his first question, that the plant which takes its name from words meaning nose twister is nasturtium. Jill took that one, and already the contest was beginning to look like a bit of a walkover.

In the third round Jill again took her first two, but this time failed on the third question. It took Paddy to answer that the Buckinghamshire mansion given to the nation for the use of the Prime minister was Chequers. He returned the favour, though, when he failed to answer that prior to Stockholm monarchs of Sweden were crowned in Uppsala. Jill had that. I knew the answer to Simon’s first, that the two divisions of dinosaurs – ornithischia and saurischia refer to those that have hips like birds, and those that have hips like lizards. Paddy got close enough to that for a bonus. Jonathan again fell at the first, and it took Jill to answer that the God who ranted Midas the power to turn everything he touched into gold was Dionysus. One more round remained before the Beat the Brains interval. Jill for the first time fell at the first with a question about lichens that nobody could answer. Paddy took one, but it took Jill to answer his second, that the son in law of Edward IV was Henry VII. Simon rallied with 2 good answers, but Paddy supplied his third, about the Coulomb. Poor old Jonathan couldn’t get his first again, and it gave Jill a bonus when she recognized the scientific name of teak. At this stage Jill led with 13, to Paddy’s 6, Simon’s 4 and Jonathan’s 3. I hate to say it, but if this had been a boxing match the referee would have been thinking about stopping the contest at this stage.

The brains answered both questions correctly. The first one gave the names of two composers, and asked what linked them, and the brains knew that both of these were fictitious composers used as hoaxes on radio shows. The second asked about Major William Martin. This was on a similar theme since he was The Man Who Never Was. I knew the second, but not the first. No book token given out in this show.

For the next three rounds, Jill could not answer the first question in each of her sets. The one in round 5 saw none of the brains quite manage to name the first names of the film producers Merchant and Ivory . Between them they had Ishmael and James, but not together . Paddy didn’t recognize a german word for Dance of Death. Jill had that. Simon didn’t recognize the voice of the late Etta James. Jill had that. None of the brains recognized the location for DH Lawrence’s “Lady Chatterley’s Lover”. I should hope not. So despite not getting any of her own questions, Jill still added to her lead. I actually knew the term sesquipedalian for Jill’s next first, but this went begging. Not surprised – hard question. Paddy took his first, but didn’t know what a gowk was. Jill knew that it was a cuckoo. Simon didn’t know the Dickens’ nurse and midwife whose appearance was always accompanied by a strong smell of drink.Meat and drink to Jill who knew that it was Mrs. Gamp from “Martin Chuzzlewit”. Jonathan, who was probably longing to be asked some of the questions which had fallen to others in the show, got the short straw again when he was played a snatch of birdsong and asked to identify the bird. Paddy took the bonus with wren.
I reckoned we might get 8 rounds since they were going so quickly, and I was right. In round 7 Jill was asked an interesting question about a Russian word derived from Vauxhall in London. I guessed it might mean Pleasure gardens, but nobody knew it meant railway station. Paddy took two, but it took Simon to inform him that you have to register the birth of a baby within 6 weeks in England and Wales. Nobody knew that Queen Victoria opened the Manchester Ship Canal in 1894. I thought the answer of the Forth Bridge was a good’un, but this happened 4 years earlier. My guess was the Blackpool Tower, which opened that year. I knew that it was the Prince of Wales who opened Tower Bridge in 1894. Jonathan got a classical music question, which fell to Jill as a bonus. All of which meant it was mathematically possible for Paddy to win, but only if Jill didn’t answer any, and he took all five of his own and three bonuses on the others. No disrespect to Paddy intended, but the evidence of the show so far made this seem an unlikely outcome. As it was Jill took her first 4, but didn’t guess that in France, to Swallow One’s Birth Certificate means to shuffle off this mortal coil and join the choir invisible. Or die. Paddy took his first, but it was Jill who knew Booth Tarkington’s “The Magnificent Ambersons”. Simon took one, but again it was Jill who knew that the densest metal is osmium. Finally Jonathan got a decent first question, but his second required him to identify the word ‘bogus’ which none of the other contestants could do. At the end, then, the final scores were : -

Jill Goodwin – 24
Paddy Hayes – 11
Simon Mason – 6
Jonathan Perry – 4

Well done to Jill Goodwin. A highly impressive score, but what’s more impressive was the breadth of knowledge it took to produce that score. A potential finalist with a fair wind and a kind draw in the semis.

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